1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Bryan Waller Procter

Leigh Hunt, in Review of Procter, Sicilian Story; The Examiner (2 January 1820) 11-12.



Mr. Cornwall's poetical character may be summed up very briefly. It's essence is decidedly a graceful voluptuousness, now deepening into thought, and now rising into an aetherial kind of touching, which sometimes evapourates into faintness. His spirit hovers over his subject like a dove. If it flies off occasionally into some piny forest or solitary and grand speculation, it speedily returns, with it's yearning after love and beauty, and "hangs over it enamoured." His voluptuousness however must be understood in a fine sense. However fond of earthly forms, it looks in them for spirits answering to their beauty. It is a voluptuousness of the Golden Age, good, and true, with faith in the natural goodness and gladness of all loveable things. A fine vein of sentiment runs through it, and only seems to lose itself occasionally; like those more visible ones which he beautifully describes as hiding in "the white depths" of a woman's bosom....

Mr. Cornwall's genius has a cast of resemblance to Fletcher's. Among the modern poets, he will remind the reader perhaps of the best part of Mr. Campbell's Gertrude of Wyoming; but when we say he has a resemblance to Fletcher, we hardly need add that we think him far superior to his elegant contemporary.